Working from home may seem like a dream but for some, it’s less than ideal. If you struggle with self-discipline, distraction, or cramped spaces, coworking may be for you.
Believe it or not, working from home falls short for some of the same reasons that working a traditional office job does. It’s obvious where the monotony lies in an office job, same clothes, same desk, same coworkers, same time every day. The boring desk job routine can stifle creativity and stall your projects. But that same lack of variation can easily develop working from home. Every day you get up and slip into the routine of working from the couch, meandering to the kitchen for some coffee, switching up positions to the home office at lunchtime then wrapping up early because you got distracted by your favorite tv show. It gets easier and easier to push back the beginning of your day for a little more sleep and lounge around in your pajamas all day, causing your brain to think it’s still in relaxation mode. Just because you have the freedom to mix up your routine doesn’t mean you will and before you know it, you’re behind on this week’s work.
Breaking bad habits are hard unless you make a significant change. Switching your environment can help tremendously. Traveling to a different environment than where you live and relax can signal the brain that it’s time to work, helping you be more productive. Coworking allows you to have that designated workspace without the downfalls of a coffee shop.
Speaking of coffee shop downfalls, distraction is one of them. Someone just ordered a smoothie for the 20th time today and the grind of the blender seems to get louder with every order. A group of teenage girls are here for their after-school coffee and gossip and they’re not afraid who hears. You glance back at your screen amidst the many disruptions and notice it's been so long since you’ve touched your work that the screensaver kicked on.
Just because home is quiet doesn’t mean it isn’t full of distractions too. Your cute fluffy animals call to you for attention and you spend the next 30 minutes asking them how they are. You seem to be hungry, again, and it's hard to choose what your snack will be. Another 15 minutes wasted. You need a break, one quick 20-minute show won’t hurt except somehow you end up being asked if you’re still watching. Some people may think they thrive in a home or busy environment but the reality is, distractions hinder productivity.
Coworking spaces provide an area with much less distraction. You may be working alongside others but there are understood rules of working respect. You’re in a space with like-minded people. They are there to get down to business. Being surrounded by other productive entrepreneurs can give you inspiration and motivation to push yourself and focus on getting stuff done.
While there are areas of coworking spaces dedicated to getting down to business there are also areas designed for making connections. Even the most extreme introverts need some socialization. If it’s been more than two days without some real, genuine human interaction you may want to consider a coworking space. Socializing, even just briefly or in passing, can help lift your spirits, get you out of a rut, and boost your creativity. Heading over to the cafe area or chatting with someone at the printers can do you and your business good. You may even make a valuable business connection.
Many freelancers can work from home or a coffee shop or even a coworking space without ever having to meet with their clients. Even so, having the option if the need arises is always a great advantage. If you are one of those freelancers who have to meet with clients, chances are you aren’t comfortable inviting them to your home. Your next option would be coffee shops which can be loud, uncomfortable, cramped, and inconvenient for meetings. A membership at a coworking space allows you to have access to professional quarters that help you and your business communicate that you can deliver for your clients.
Sometimes freelancing can lead to bigger paths than intended. If you started freelancing thinking you would happily work for yourself, by yourself but started to see more opportunity, it might be time to upgrade your working environment.
Coworking spaces offer amenities that your home office or coffee shop just can’t provide when expanding your business. There's access to office machines like printers, copiers, and fax machines and helpful staff to lend a hand when they inconveniently stop working in the middle of your 100-page job. There’s coffee and food to save time on travel or save money on delivery. There’s a variety of working spaces like conference rooms and private phone booths. There’s room for you to meet with your new team and even meet your next employee.
Coworking spaces value community and collaboration, an integral part of helping your business thrive. So next time you find yourself distracted, isolated or needing more space stop holding yourself back. Try something new. You’re ready for coworking.
Michael Haapaniemi is President of The Ranch, a Texas-inspired space for coworking in Houston designed to inspire and grow small businesses.